Number of fires doubles average for region

With a prolonged, active forest fire season in this region, Ontario may well exceed the 10-year annual average for numbers of forest fires in the province.
The region itself has more than doubled the annual average number of fires, which stands at 716. More than 1,600 fires have been reported to date in Northwestern Ontario.
As of yesterday evening, 16 new fires were reported in the region, bringing the total of active blazes to 321 covering 46,702 hectares. A total of 56,320 ha has been consumed to date.
The fire hazard remains “high to extreme” in all seven districts of the West Fire Region.
In addition to declared emergencies and resultant evacuations from First Nations communities in the Far North, several other First Nations communities further south also have declared emergencies.
These include Aroland, northwest of Nakina, Ginoogaming (Longlac #58), south of Longlac, and Pays Plat, west of Terrace Bay, where 34 residents were moved to Thunder Bay.
The number of evacuees from the other two communities is being determined.
Moderate and gusty winds out of the southwest may further impact First Nation evacuees, as well as residents of the receiving centre communities of Greenstone and Longlac, where more than 900 evacuees currently are seeking shelter and relief from the smoke in their home communities.
As a result of increasing fire activity and dangers in the area of the declared Emergency Area Order in the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Thunder Bay and Nipigon districts, restrictions on travel have been imposed.
In Nipigon district, access is restricted on the Goldfield, Eldee, Catlonite, Deadhorse, and Frazer Roads. Any travel requires prior authorization from the MNR district manager at Nipigon.
In Thunder Bay district, all travel on or beyond Highway 811 and the Kitchen Road, running off Highway 527 (the Armstrong highway), is now restricted.
Similarly, only persons receiving prior authorization from the MNR district manager at Thunder Bay may access these routes.
With ongoing forest fire activity in British Columbia drawing on firefighting resources, and with other provincial fire agencies winding down for the season, out-of-province resources are becoming increasingly hard to find.
Yesterday, Ontario was assisted with additional resources from Parks Canada and Saskatchewan.
A nine-person fire management team and two three-person crews joined the fray from Parks Canada, along with five four-person initial attack crews from Saskatchewan.
Although there has been some relief brought on by rainfall for the far north First Nations communities, there is little relief in sight for forest areas across the southern half of the region.
Average to above average temperatures, a mix of sun and cloud, and moderate winds will continue to dry out forest fuels and allow existing fires to grow in size.
In related news, with hunting season opening soon for moose in the northern areas of the region, there will be an influx of hunters heading to remote private camps and lodges.
Hunters are urged to check with the nearest local MNR office in their designated wildlife management unit, on restrictions regarding the use of woodstoves in their camps.
Approved spark arrestors are required on stovepipes and chimneys.

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